BARCELONA — Fatih Akin’s “Head-On” won best European film at the 17th European Film Awards, marking the second year in a row a German film has taken top honors at Europe’s equivalent of the Oscars.
“Head-On” had been talked up, along with Alejandro Amenabar’s “The Sea Inside,” Pedro Almodovar’s “Bad Education” and Mike Leigh’s “Vera Drake,” as a front-runner for the prize. But most pundits thought “Sea” probably would win.
“Sea Inside” went home with two other top statues, for director Amenabar and actor Javier Bardem. With Imelda Staunton taking actress, at least two films came out of the awards with their most serious Oscar credentials reinforced.
“Head-On” won the Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear and Bardem and Staunton took actor and actress at the Venice Film Festival. Other awards also echoed major fest plaudits, as Agnes Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri took screenplay for “Look at Me” and Eduardo Serra drew the cinematographer nod for “Girl With a Pearl Earring.”
The European Film Awards were strongly backed this year by the Catalan regional government, the Barcelona Town Hall and Spain’s central government Ministry of Culture, which paid for flights and accommodation for a far larger contingent of Euro stars and press than usual.
The Barcelona awards scored in typically Catalan chic, taking place as a sit-down gala dinner in Barcelona’s vanguard Forum Convention Center at Barcelona’s spectacular new port complex.
Speaking in English and Spanish, presenters Juanjo Puigcorbe and Maria de Madeiros battled with an irregular — and sometimes seemingly absent — script. The three-hour ceremony had little Hollywood-style glamour. But Europe has few homegrown megastars, and European Film Academy members oppose throwing an Oscar-style kudocast.
The major challenge of the European Film Awards is that of the European film industry at large. As Spanish director Carlos Saura put it when he accepted his lifetime achievement award, “Marvelous films are made in Europe, but they’re scarcely seen in France, Germany and Spain.”
Two day parallel events included a European Co-Production Forum; European Producers Club co-production meetings; a Shooting Stars cocktail party, attended by 13 up-and-coming Euro thesps; and a half-day EFA conference, “Shop Talk: Actors Talk About Their Work,” in which Euro actors and helmers such as Liv Ullmann and Istvan Szabo analyzed European actors’ work and challenges.
17th EUROPEAN FILM AWARDS
“Head-On,” Fatih Akin (Germany)
Alejandro Amenabar, “The Sea Inside” (Spain/France/Italy)
Javier Bardem, “The Sea Inside” (Spain/France/Italy)
Imelda Staunton, “Vera Drake” (U.K./France)
Agnes Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri, “Look at Me” (France)
Eduardo Serra, “Girl With A Pearl Earring” (U.K.)
Bruno Coulais, “The Chorus” (France
EUROPEAN FILM ACADEMY DISCOVERY 2004 PRIX FASSBINDER
“Stolen Childhood,” Andrea and Antonio Frazzi (Italy)
EUROPEAN FILM ACADEMY SHORT FILM — PRIZ UIP
“J’Attendrai le suivant,” Philippe Orreindy (France)
EUROPEAN FILM ACADEMY NON-EUROPEAN FILM — PRIX SCREEN INTERNATIONAL
“2046,” Won Kar-Wai (France/China)
EUROPEAN FILM ACADEM LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
EUROPEAN ACHIEVEMENT IN WORLD CINEMA
EUROPEAN FILM ACADEMY CRITICS’ AWARD PRIX FRIPRESCI
“Trilogy — The Weeping Meadow,” Theo Angelopoulos (Greece)
EUROPEAN FILM ACADEMY DOCUMENTARY PRIX ARTE
“Darwin’s Nightmare,” Hubert Sauper, (France/Austria/Belgium)
THE JAMESON PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARDS
Daniel Bruehl, “Love in Thoughts” (Germany)
Penelope Cruz, “Don’t Move” (Italy/Spain)
Fatih Akin, “Head-On” (Germany)